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Ask Andy 2

posted by Scot McKnight

AndyNthPt.jpgI’m asking Andy Stanley some questions about preaching, and I will be recording his answers here.

Well, I’m cheating when I say that: I’m reading his book (Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
) and generating questions that are answered by his chapters. Sorry, but I think that first paragraph was Andy-esque. I maybe have to repeat this each time to make the whole approach clear.
Anyone have some suggestions for learning to preach toward a point?
Question for preachers: What’s your point?
Andy starts off with a low blow to many of us preachers: “If life change is your goal, point by point preaching is not the most effective approach” (103). Hear that: point by point preaching is not as effective at change as preaching with a single point in view. He says his famous preacher dad was the “king of points.”
What’s a point? An application, an insight, or a principle. Two questions have to be asked: What do I want the congregation to know? What do I want them to do?
And this: Dig until you find it, build everything around it, and make it stick.


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Bob Wriedt

posted April 8, 2010 at 2:00 am


When I’m helping students in our college ministry teach/preach for the first time, the thing I spend the most time getting across is the importance of having a singular, clear question that they are asking and answering. Most sermon points I hear given are not ideas, they are topics (a topic might be “The importance of fasting,” while an idea would be “The importance of fasting is that it reflects a repentant heart.”) Once they have their idea, then they can explain what it means, why it’s important, respond to objections, image what it might look like in real life, show how it points to the gospel, etc, but that’s all part of the same point.



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Mick Porter

posted April 8, 2010 at 2:33 am


I found Haddon Robinson’s “Biblical Preaching” useful for this – he has a “Big Idea” theory that sounds very similar to “preaching with a single point in view”. As far as learning to do so; get used to trying to explain your point to someone in a few sentences.



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Brad S

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:35 am


As a young guy who is just getting into ministry and preaching over the past few years, preaching a point is pretty natural. It just makes sense, because I do want people to be able to leave and know what the heck I was talking about. When preparing a sermon, I will almost always have a line at the top of the page when I do my outline that says “This sermon is about….”



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Gilbert Kerrigan

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:56 am


Andy’s book on preaching was a very influential reading for me as a young preacher. I found his idea of preaching a single point to challenging, but very useful. I try to do this most of the time.
I have found that preaching a single point fits topical sermons, but it does not always fit expository sermons. I’m preaching through Ephesians right now. It definitely seems more difficult to preach the “single point” method when you are covering a book of the bible from start to finish.
Or, maybe I’m just not trying hard enough.



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Chris Ridgeway

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:59 am


I used to talk about this as the “exit poll” litmus test. If I somehow had people standing by the exits after I talked asking only, “What did Chris speak about?” — my hope is that I would actually get the majority of people who could 1) actually answer (how many times have you been asked this 10 mins after, and can already barely remember!) 2) have a similar and brief response–even if its an image or a phrase.
Bonus if the “big idea/point” links to a common object or experience of an everyday week (car keys, waiting-in-line, voicemail) that will revive the idea mid-week.



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Brianmpei

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:14 am


I would suggest a third question to know and do – what do I want them to feel?



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MatthewS

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:24 am


I’ve heard others talk about Haddon Robinson’s “Big Idea” and I was immediately reminded of that as well.
The tension for me is, I will read someone lamenting how Westerners are too practical, too pragmatic, too short-sided. Sometimes they should just let a story be a story or let a passage live in its own world and appreciate it there. We so quickly pull a passage through time and make an application that we fail to let it live in its own world, we fail to enter its world. So, I will tend to gravitate to the extreme of explaining the original sense of the passage in all its beauty but without application.
Then, I read something like this and I hunger to deliver a sermon that will result in a response like the people to Nehemiah “Let’s rise up and build!”
I feel the tension of two extremes: focusing on the culture and history and original meaning of a passage at the expense of contemporary application, or focusing on “so what” at the expense of the original meaning and beauty of the passage.
Some day, I will be aged and wise like John Fry and then I will have it all figured out :-D
[Beliefnet: there is something weird with the click event in the message box. It keeps clearing out the box when I click in it. Good thing I copied the message – I’ve had to paste it three times now. Firefox 3.5.5]



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Travis Greene

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:28 am


Little is more tiring than listening to 30 minutes of a sermon and then hearing “Ok, so here are 7 points from this passage…”
Maybe preaching to a single theme is better than a single point, though.



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RJS

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:29 am


MatthewS,
I have had the same problem with comments – but yesterday EricG pointed out that if you click in the name box after it clears from clicking in the comment box your comment “miraculously” reappears. It worked for me on both of my comments on the other thread.
(I still always copy my comment though as entering the text wrong will clear the comment more permanently)



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MatthewS

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:40 am


*sorry! John Frye, not Fry.
Yes, when I clicked on my name, the comment reappeared, but when I again clicked on either the comment or the scroll bar, it disappeared again. All this was only after refreshing the captcha. So I would be unable to modify it or even select and copy it. After pasting what I had copied, I could edit it. Then click in name, then back in the box, it would disappear again.



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RJS

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:43 am


Aargh…
All this a new development – from about the same time the Calendar disappeared from the sidebar.



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paul

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:43 am


I remember reading something like this in Andy’s book (not sure which chapter but it might work in this one).
If you can’t remember your own sermon then why should you expect your congregation to do so?
This idea really helped me with the “one idea” or “one theme” approach. It’s about the simplicity of helping people to truly learn during the sermon time. It also helped me to think that maybe there are some things you cannot learn in a sermon and other avenues of learning are needed



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Joey

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:03 am


“What is your point?”
To teach mercy; acceptance and administration.



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michael

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm


I’ve read the book – Andy’s book is Haddon Robinson for dummies. really. it’s just re-packaged.
I agree with everything Andy says (and often use his proposal) but at the same time i also don’t agree with him.
if you listen to Tim Keller, for instance, he sometimes says things like: “I’m going to give you three reasons . . .” Now I would argue that he still has a basic over-arching theme in his sermons, but he still uses points and nuance.
I think Andy is brilliant in his context but at times the “one little phrase” becomes reductionistic and doesn’t give enough nuance or a full enough picture.
At it’s best – it’s memorable. At it’s worst – it’s trite.
(But then given the option of laundry list of points or trite i think I’ll take trite)



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michael

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm


I’ve read the book – Andy’s book is Haddon Robinson for dummies. really. it’s just re-packaged.
I agree with everything Andy says (and often use his proposal) but at the same time i also don’t agree with him.
if you listen to Tim Keller, for instance, he sometimes says things like: “I’m going to give you three reasons . . .” Now I would argue that he still has a basic over-arching theme in his sermons, but he still uses points and nuance.
I think Andy is brilliant in his context but at times the “one little phrase” becomes reductionistic and doesn’t give enough nuance or a full enough picture.
At it’s best – it’s memorable. At it’s worst – it’s trite.
(But then given the option of laundry list of points or trite i think I’ll take trite)



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Billy Kangas

posted April 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm


Preach the Gospel… Make it clear, authentic and practical…
…Make sure preaching isn’t the only reason people are showing up



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Ted M. Gossard

posted April 9, 2010 at 3:46 am


I think this is good, and when I preach that is what I think I’m doing. I could care less about points, I never go point by point unless something flows naturally. But I want to get across one point. Quite interesting.
I’d love to hear Andy Stanley sometime. I’ll bet he can be downloaded and with the netbook I have now I’m online more for downloads.



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